2010 Dietary Guidelines: Here They Come To Save The Daaaaay!

So far I’ve managed to slug through two sections of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: the Executive Summary and a 62-page introduction titled Setting the Stage. It’s tough going, largely because the documents are written in that government-academia style that makes me want to rip my own head off.

I guess I should’ve expected as much. Early in his presidency, Jimmy Carter sent out a directive instructing government bureaucrats to write official documents “in plain English for a change.” Dream on, Jimmy. By the time the directive was edited and passed along, it probably called for “implementing a shift in publication protocols designed to facilitate and enhance the impactfulness of written communications by encouraging the frequent employment of commonly-used words and idiomatic expressions.”

One of the best books I’ve ever read on writing (Telling Writing, by Ken Macrorie) gave a name to that kind of language: Engfish … the dead-fish, stupefying form of prose that academics and bureaucrats often choose because they believe it makes them sound intelligent and important. Here’s one example from the Dietary Guidelines:

The first of these chapters considers the total diet and how to integrate all of the Report’s nutrient and energy recommendations into practical terms that encourage personal choice but result in an eating pattern that is nutrient dense and calorie balanced. The second chapter complements this total diet approach by integrating and translating the scientific conclusions reached at the individual level to encompass the broader environmental and societal aspects that are crucial to full adoption and successful implementation of these recommendations.

Hey, wake up!  There’s more.  Here’s their explanation of “total diet”:

The DGAC defines “total diet” as the combination of foods and beverages that provide energy and nutrients and constitute an individual’s complete dietary intake, on average, over time. This encompasses various foods and food groups, their recommended amounts and frequency, and the resulting eating pattern.

I see … so when you refer to the “total diet,” you’re actually talking about the total diet. Thanks for clearing that up.

Most of the Setting The Stage document is dedicating to explaining why the committee exists and how they’re going to save the American people from themselves. In plain, non-Engfish language, it could be summarized as a slight variation of the Mighty Mouse song:  “Here we come to save the daaaaaaaaaay!”

Since first published in 1980, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have provided science-based advice to promote health and reduce risk of major chronic diseases through optimal diet and regular physical activity… Because of their focus on health promotion and risk reduction, the Dietary Guidelines form the basis of Federal food, nutrition education, and information programs.

By law (Public Law 101-445, Title III, 7 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.,) the most recent edition of the Dietary Guidelines is reviewed by a committee of experts, updated if necessary, and published every 5 years. The legislation also requires that the Secretaries of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) review all Federal publications for the general public containing dietary guidance information for consistency with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

So the USDA has been issuing dietary advice every five years since 1980, and they’re responsible for enforcing consistency in federal dietary guidance. As they explain elsewhere in the document, their mission is especially critical now because

The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the US has increased dramatically in the past three decades … The 2010 DGAC Report is unprecedented in addressing an American public, two-thirds of whom are overweight or obese.

A dramatic increase in obesity in the past three decades … hmmm, let me do some math here … that would mean we’ve gotten a lot fatter since 1980, otherwise known as the first year the DGAC provided science-based advice to promote health and reduce risk of major chronic diseases through optimal diet and regular physical activity.

Since the body of the full report suggests they’re big believers in drawing conclusions from correlations, I couldn’t help but notice an interesting correlation there. Let me put it into proper Engfish:  Moderately strong correlational evidence suggests a causative link between the DGAC s semi-decadal dietary guidelines and the observed rise in the prevalence of obesity over the same period.

Yup, we started getting fatter right around the time the USDA started telling us how to eat. Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe not. But I can guarantee you it would never occur to a government nutrition committee to even ask themselves the question. In fact, it’s clear from the rest of the Setting The Stage document that they already know why Americans have gotten fatter: We’re stupid.  (MeMe Roth is no doubt applauding.)

They didn’t come out say that, of course. That would be simple and direct. But various Engfish versions are all over the document:

Now, as in the past, a disconnect exists between dietary recommendations and what Americans actually consume.

Translation: those stupid fat @#$&s aren’t eating like we told them to!

The 2010 DGAC recognizes that substantial barriers make it difficult for Americans to accomplish these goals. Ensuring that all Americans consume a health-promoting dietary pattern and achieve and maintain energy balance requires far more than individual behavior change. A multi-sectoral strategy is imperative.

Translation: those stupid fat @#$&s are so stupid, they’re going to need a LOT of help to overcome their stupidity.

Ultimately, individuals choose the types and amount of food they eat and the amount of physical activity they perform, but the current environment significantly enhances the over-consumption of calories and discourages the expenditure of energy.

Translation: those stupid fat @#$&s are not only stupid; they’re also lazy and incapable of resisting temptation, probably because they’re stupid.

To achieve dietary goals and energy balance, Americans must become mindful, or “conscious,” eaters, that is, attentively choosing what and how much they eat.

Translation: the only way those stupid fat @#$&s will ever stop being stupid fat @#$&s is if they stop being stupid and start thinking more consciously about all the good advice we’ve been giving them for past 30 years before they run off and stuff their stupid faces.

As far as I can tell, the committee members never asked themselves how we all became so stupid in one generation, or what it was about our grandparents and great-grandparents that made them such mindful, conscious eaters. I seem to recall my grandparents pretty much just ate whenever they were hungry. Grandma whipped up plenty of food at mealtimes and there were usually leftovers put in the refrigerator, so they weren’t lean because they were starving themselves or running out of food to tempt them.

So what’s the cure for all that mindless, stupid eating? Well, since this document was written by a government committee, you can pretty much guess: a multi-sectored, multi-factorial, comprehensive strategy. In other words, mo’ better government!  (Here we come to save the daaaaaay!)  In Engfish:

A coordinated strategic plan that includes all sectors of society, including individuals, families, educators, communities, physicians and allied health professionals, public health advocates, policy makers, scientists, and small and large businesses (e.g., farmers, agricultural producers, food scientists, food manufacturers, and food retailers of all kinds), should be engaged in the development and ultimate implementation of a plan to help all Americans eat well, be physically active, and maintain good health and function. It is important that any strategic plan is evidence-informed, action-oriented, and focused on changes in systems in these sectors.

I’m sorry, but if it takes that kind of effort to prevent us from becoming fat and sick, we’re already dead. This isn’t World War Two, for Pete’s sake.

Change is needed in the overall food environment to support the efforts of all Americans to meet the key recommendations of the 2010 DGAC.

Here’s how you can change the overall food environment: stop subsidizing grains. There are many references in the full report to the evils of “grain-based desserts.” Maybe if our tax dollars weren’t making them dirt-cheap, the profit motive for producing them would go away.

To meet these challenges, the following sustainable changes must occur:

Improve nutrition literacy and cooking skills, including safe food handling skills, and empower and motivate the population, especially families with children, to prepare and consume healthy foods at home.

Increase comprehensive health, nutrition, and physical education programs and curricula in US schools and preschools, including food preparation, food safety, cooking, and physical education classes and improved quality of recess.

Translation: we need to start brainwashing the stupid fat @#$&s to follow our advice at an early age, before their taste buds develop.

For all Americans, especially those with low income, create greater financial incentives to purchase, prepare, and consume vegetables and fruit, whole grains, seafood, fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats, and other healthy foods.

Improve the availability of affordable fresh produce through greater access to grocery stores, produce trucks, and farmers’ markets.

Ensure household food security through measures that provide access to adequate amounts of foods that are nutritious and safe to eat.

Translation: we need to start bribing the stupid fat @#$&s who also happen to be poor so they’ll start following our advice.

Encourage restaurants and the food industry to offer health-promoting foods that are low in sodium; limited in added sugars, refined grains, and solid fats; and served in smaller portions.

Thaaaaat’ll be interesting:

“Hello, this is the USDA calling. We’d like to encourage you to serve more tasteless, health-promoting foods in your restaurant, preferably in smaller portions.”

“Yeah, we tried that. Nobody bought the stuff, so we couldn’t make a profit on it. Sorry.”

“Ummm … I’m afraid you don’t understand. We’re encouraging you.”

“Uh-huh. Consider me encouraged. Now, if you’ll excuse, it’s busy here today, so–”

“Look, damnit! We’re ENCOURAGING you to do what we say!  Now take the encouragement, or we’ll have to regulate you!”

There’s more to it, of course. And after laying out their multi-factorial, multi-sectoral, comprehensive, coordinated, strategic, guaranteed-to-create-a-few-thousand-federal-jobs plans, the committee explains why their work is oh-so important:

The US Government uses the Dietary Guidelines as the basis of its food assistance programs, nutrition education efforts, and decisions about national health objectives. For example, the National School Lunch Program and the Elderly Nutrition Program incorporate the Dietary Guidelines in menu planning, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) applies the Dietary Guidelines in its educational materials, and the Healthy People 2010 objectives for the Nation include objectives based on the Dietary Guidelines.

As you may recall, when government inspectors visited my daughter’s school, we received an apologetic note from the principal reminding us that every lunch — even the ones we send from home — must meet federal guidelines when inspectors are on site. So we had to fill my daughter’s lunch bag with grain-based, low-fat garbage for a couple of days. Then we put her back on a good diet. Enforcing federal guidelines isn’t the solution. It’s part of the problem.

The evidence described here in the 2010 DGAC Report, which will be used to develop the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, will help policymakers, educators, clinicians, and others speak with one voice on nutrition and health and to reduce the confusion caused by mixed messages in the media.

As a libertarian with an interest in both science and nutrition, this sentence, perhaps more than any other, set my hair on fire. (And I don’t have much left.) Speaking “with one voice” may appeal to the government mentality, but it is absolutely, positively the opposite of what’s required for any kind of progress.  I don’t care what field you’re talking about — nutrition, climate science, physics, philosophy, economics, etc. — progress is not the result of manufactured consensus; it’s the result of individual thinking and robust debate. Allowing the so-called experts to control the discussion and speak “with one voice” is the prescription for intellectual paralysis and decay.

I’m not sure how they’ll “encourage” the media to stop sending mixed messages, but I’m pretty sure the last we thing we need is for the media to march even more in lockstep with the government’s nutrition guidelines. It’s good to be confused when you’re looking for answers. Believe me, I was confused when my low-fat and vegetarians diets didn’t produce results anything like I’d been promised. That confusion prompted me to keep investigating.

I’ve mentioned the wonderful book The Wisdom of Crowds before, but it’s worth stating the theme again here: the best answers rarely come from little groups of experts. You can empanel the 25 smartest people in the world, and they still don’t have as much accumulated knowledge and wisdom as any thousand people picked at random. That’s why the best answers usually come from somewhere out in the crowd — especially when people in the crowd start comparing notes.

Little groups of experts speaking with one voice told us to avoid animal fats and eat more grains. If we’ve done anything stupid in the past 30 years, it was listening to their advice. You can see the results on any public street. Let’s not do it again.

More in the next post.


37 thoughts on “2010 Dietary Guidelines: Here They Come To Save The Daaaaay!

  1. Kate

    This government agency’s plan is to kill off the low income people, or at least stop them from reproducing. That’s the only logical explanation I see for ENCOURAGING low income families to feed their kids a low fat diet.

    It may not prevent reproduction, but it’s sure not helping with brain development, no matter what income level we’re talking about.

  2. Jared Bond

    “implementing a shift in publication protocols designed to facilitate and enhance the impactfulness of written communications by encouraging the frequent employment of commonly-used words and idiomatic expressions.”

    Ho ho! The government and professional academia just called, Tom- they want to hire you immediately!!

    Heck, I could write that garbage all day long. But then I’d want to kill myself.

  3. Todd S.

    Is it odd that I stood up and cheered at my computer screen after reading this?

    Only if you believe your computer screen was listening.

  4. Josiah

    Several interesting points especially those about cultural and academic decay.

    It’s actually funny that they attribute the spiraling increase of obese people to a lack of regulation and conscious healthy eating in spite of not only human history, but every measurable factor such as quality of life, intelligence, and technology increasing as the years go by.

    How did we live one hundred and fifty years without the dietary guidelines?

    We managed to thrive for 150 years without most of the federal programs in place today.

  5. Drew @ How To Cook Like Your Grandmother

    I had at least three different things I wanted to respond to, until I read that bit about your daughter’s lunch. I wasn’t here for that, so I have to ask, how did they convince you to actually change what you sent her with? What would have happened if you hadn’t?

    It’s easy for me to suggest someone else make their child a test case in a federal issue, but that might be just what it takes for some of this stupidity to finally end. If the feds can lean on a school so hard that the school leans on parents about what they’re feeding kids … that sounds to me like standing for suing the USDA to prove their dietary guidelines are based on valid science. And more importantly, that they actually work. (Good luck with that one.)

    That post actually sparked a bit of debate. Bottom line is that we weren’t going to put my daughter in the middle of a fight she didn’t start.

  6. Bushrat

    “The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)”

    Hmmm…something about this sounds weird. How can the majority of the population be a special group? And secondly what is in men’s diets that is so bad for women and children to eat? And since when are infants not children?

    WIC is the polite term for food welfare.

  7. mrfreddy

    I’d never heard of that “Telling Writing” book before – it looks awesome. After reading some snippets on Amazon, I had to order it, thanks!

    I was pleased to see it’s still in print. My copy is at least 25 years old.

  8. Melissa Martell

    Okay now that I’ve woken up and have place my fingers on the keyboard properly so people can read what I’ve typed…
    I can’t believe there are lunch inspections by the government at your daughters school.
    Ridiculous. Waste of money.
    My son starts kindergarten in the fall so I’m waiting to see what they preach here in Canada. I know my friend is a low fat vegetarian nazi about her kids food and had convince parents her kids school that low fat yogurt sweetened with splenda was great for their lunches.

    Thanks for the review, I’d love for someone to propose your correlation to them on a public media forum lol!

    Shame of it is, it’s actually difficult to find full-fat yogurt now. My wife found exactly one brand among the many in the grocery store.

  9. Janet

    My mind is in a whirl with trying to deal with the quotes you presented. What hit me the most though was the amazing arrogance of stating that the guidelines have presented science-based advice. But then, now that I’ve calmed down a little bit and am thinking a little clearer, they do not state that it’s good science-based advice, or that it presents all the science. Still quite maddening. And then there’s the mind-boggling situation you presented where you were pushed to change your child’s lunch??!! Damn! There goes my brain again, wanting to explode! Sorry I’ve got to go now- there’s only so much of this stuff that my mind can deal with at one time….

    Believe me, sometimes I think I should wear a brace around my head while reading this nonsense to keep my brain from exploding.

  10. Jan

    I’ve found that when I point out to my more liberal friends – the ones who believe the government must do something about that NOW – that we started getting fatter and seeing a sharp rise in diabetes and heart disease about the time the government started telling us how we should eat, they tend to look at me as if I’d grown a second head. It couldn’t be the government – it’s Big Business! Brainwashing us poor, helpless victims! Because, yeah, the general American public (with the exception of them, of course) is stupid.

    For big business to turn us into victims, they usually need government’s help.

  11. Dave, RN

    It’s amazing how the government can take something as simple as eating and turn it into something that requires panels of “experts” and millions of dollars. And still be wrong.

    But maybe they’re right for the end they want to accomplish. See this: http://bit.ly/cost_healthy_study9O7pyU

    So according to that study, by keeping us chronically ill we consume less healthcare dollars. Healthy people cost too much in the long run. So that’s mission accomplished for the food guidelines. They saved money on healthcare.


    That’s what I pointed out in an earlier post: that danged Meme Roth is costing taxpayers money by being so skinny and healthy.

  12. CindyD

    My niece and her husband are very conservative and more Libertarian than not. They have a natural distrust of the gov’t (especially this one!), but I can’t get them to understand that the nutritional guidelines that they follow fanatically are a byproduct of government ineptness. They easily believe that the gov’t screws up most things, but not nutrition advice. How can eating lots of whole grains and very little fat be wrong? They wouldn’t dream of second guessing the Food Guide Pyramid.

    I think that you need to go on Rush or Glenn Beck and discuss the gov’t nutrition conspiracy. If they started talking about the gov’t screwing up and creating decades of obesity and sickness, then my niece and her husband (plus many others) would start to believe it.

    Even with my natural distrust of government, I didn’t know until I started doing research for the film how heavily invested the government is in the grain business, and therefore didn’t realize their nutrition advice is based on their desire to sell more grain.

    I’ve sent the film to nearly all the big-name political commentators.

  13. Andrew

    Sad day when dogs have more of a right to eat what they want than humans do.

    The USDA may believe dogs are smarter than people.

  14. Melissa Martell

    “Sad day when dogs have more of a right to eat what they want than humans do.”

    Just wait! I’ve heard some people bemoaning about pet obesity being on the rise lately!

    Oh, no … that’ll become their next mission.

  15. LarryAJ

    What’s wrong with you people?? Attorneys for the federal government have argued in a lawsuit pending in federal court in Iowa that individuals have no “fundamental right” to obtain what food they choose. So you really have no place to complain because the gub’ment has total control of what you can eat.

    Read about it here.

    What I wish the judge in the case would do would ask the three attorneys if that is what they REALLY believe? When they say Yes, he would then say “Thus I order you to eat only bread and water for the next ten years or face contempt of court!!!!

    Good grief … no fundamental right to buy the foods we desire. We’re not far off from the day when they’ll just forbid us to eat anything they don’t believe is good for us.

  16. Thom Brogan

    Given that this release occurred during the Anointed One’s reign, his supporters could really help the USDA (to the detriment of human health and partial enrichment of soy-products producers) by asserting anyone who doesn’t follow the new guidelines is a racist, holocaust denying supporter of evil meat growers.

    I’ve been called worse for not recycling.

  17. Tracey

    ““Sad day when dogs have more of a right to eat what they want than humans do.”

    Just wait! I’ve heard some people bemoaning about pet obesity being on the rise lately!”

    No surprise when you see what commercial (esp dry) pet food is made from….hard pushed to find one that doesn’t list grains/corn as the main ingredient.

    A friend of mine saw “slimming” cat food in a pet store and asked the owner what was slimming about it. The owner said it’s high protein, low carb.

  18. Tracey

    Oh and geez you Americans are demanding…not only do you want freedom over what comes out of your mouths, but you want to have control over what you put into them too!

    Some of us still believe in the concept of a free country. But I’m starting to think we’re in a shrinking minority.

  19. Sarah

    Hey Tom, do you have any resources I can look at about the “real” asian diet since everybody thinks it’s low-fat high-carb? Or about how the diets low in fat are making asians fatter? I have a lot of anime nerd friends so it’d be a big help.

    Nothing I can find quickly. As Dr. Lustig pointed out in his lecture on fructose, even the Asians who eat a lot of rice consume very little fructose. Lots of people point to the Okinawans and all the vegetables they consume, then mention “and they eat almost no meat except for pork.” Except for pork?! You mean the stuff that’s supposed to kill us all? Apparently, pork is a big part of the diet.

  20. Todd

    There is so much surplus grain that we are feeding it to our pets. Many dog and cat foods are full of soy, corn, and rice. And pet obesity and cancer are much more of a problem than when I was a kid. It’s become common for dogs to die of cancer no older than ten. Mention it your pet owning friends, and you’re likely to get a response of “I checked the label…enough protein in the food.” They view the BARF diet for pets as something extreme.

  21. Elenor

    Hey Tom, Great blog entry! I used to work as a technical editor — so I had my eyeballs permanently contaminated by reading that sort of thing for years! Let me refer you to a good essay — that of course the food board, like most govt entities, would NEVER consider!

    “Speak with One Voice” – Why I Disagree by Peter M. Sandman

    That’s an excellent essay. I’d say the USDA’s reason for speaking “with one voice” fits Mr. Sandman’s second rationale: when there is a diversity of positions, but your organization is an advocate for one of those positions, you speak with one voice.

    That’s what most people don’t understand: the USDA is not an objective organization seeking the truth about nutrition. They’re advocates for the grain industry.

  22. Paul

    I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned it before, but it’s all a huge conspiracy. They pay a whole bunch of people to come up with a diet that would ruin people’s health over time, then when the time is right, that time being now when health care cost is at an all time high, take over the health care system.

  23. darMA

    Funny that the subject of pet food came up. Recently my sis and brother-in-law were talking about their dog, who has not only weight but severe hip problems. My bil looked a bit dumbfounded when I asked him “did you ever hear that wolves were hunted to near extinction because they were chowing down on people’s wheat and corn fields? No? I didn’t think so and I don’t think you ever will.” Unfortunately they still feed the poor thing the crappy dog foo and her health still declines. Oh sigh….

    I had one dog die of stomach cancer and another (actually a girlfriend’s dog, but I loved the slobbery thing) put down because of severe hip problems. I think back now, realize we were probably feeding them dog chow made of wheat and soy, and it breaks my heart.

  24. Lori

    I had a dog who developed oral melanoma, and on the advice of a holistic vet, started feeding him a grain-free diet. (He did badly on chemo, I couldn’t afford radiation, and I wasn’t willing to subject him to a partial jaw removal.) Our regular vet said he’d live about three months without any conventional treatments. In fact, he lived a year on the grain-free diet. He was active and seemed to feel well up until his last few days.

    My girls are begging for a dog, and after we buy a house, I’ll happily oblige them. I love dogs. And knowing what I know now, I’ll feed my fuzzy little carnivore meat, not cereal.

  25. Jonathan

    Our dog used to eat the dry cat food and got real fat. Then we started buying packs of cheap beef hotdogs and she lost a lot of weight and had a lot of energy. Imagine that. 😉
    I’m ready for a huge fight when they try to tell me what I can and cannot feed my daughter! Last I checked, this isn’t Russia. I’ll home school if I have to.

    The harder it is to read, the more important it seems. “Oh man… all them fancified words… dem really smart doctors must o’ wrote that… I’m really glad there’s somebody can understand dat and tell me what to eat… Hey, hun’… bring me dat box of Lil’ Debbies”

    Engfish is definitely employed in an attempt to sound intelligent. But in my opinion, the best writers and speakers can take complicated ideas and explain them clearly, without dumbing them down. My college physics professor was a master at explaining the complex in simple terms.

  26. John Hunter

    WIC and the “food stamp” now called SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) program are entirely different things. The gubberment sure does like its acronyms. Both programs are run on state level with mandated federal guidelines set by the (drum roll please) the USDA. Any surprise there? You are only eligible for WIC if you fall into the women, infant or child categories. Men do not qualify. If you do qualify, you most likely qualify for SNAP too and can be on both programs. WIC is a very strict program that only allows you to buy certain foods and brands. Among the acceptable foods are certain cereals, oats, whole grains, bread, rolls, tortillas (notice we are literally on a roll here?) vegetables, beans, tofu, fruit juices, cheese, peanut butter, milk, brown rice and eggs. Some of these items have brand requirements, some have fat content requirements. Ask your local grocery store checkout person and they can tell you more.

    One thing this program does do right is keep the person in front of you at the overpriced convenience store from buying two large Poweraid sports drinks(hello corn-syrup), two prepackaged ham sandwiches (that you could make at home for 1/10 of the price) and two fun size bags of chips then whipping out the old EBT (SNAP) credit card for her and her live in boyfriend who doesn’t qualify.

  27. Drew @ How To Cook Like Your Grandmother

    Elanor, that Sandman article is spectacular. The clearest communication about organizational communication I’ve ever seen.

    For anyone who doesn’t want to read the whole thing, my favorite bit is this explanation of the problem with hiding dissent:

    And if you turn out wrong, the cost of your error is much lower: You always said you might be wrong.

    So reversing course is much easier. This is a crucial advantage of letting opinion diversity show. An organization that sounds unanimous and confident about a decision can’t afford to learn later that it was a bad decision. It becomes a self-justifying organization instead of a learning organization. Such an organization is likely to stick stubbornly to its guns even in the face of increasing evidence that a different course of action would be better. By contrast, an organization that has been open about its own uncertainties and disagreements is far likelier to stay flexible.

    Sound like the USDA? (And by the way, the Catholic church … but that’s a whole different story.)

  28. Sarah

    That sucks Darma. I actually did some research about dog food once I got my new puppy and it’s awful what they’re selling in the grocery stores, it’s all the same corn, wheat, and soy crap. What I think is interesting is the market for grain-free blends of dog food, made of meat and vegetables where carbohydrates home from something like veggies potatoes. Stuff you won’t find at the local grocery stores. As far as domesticated dogs being omnivores I’m not sure, but as Dr. Sears has said, no mammal lives well off grains. Not to mention many grocery store brands are based on…. *drum roll*… CORN! yes, subsidized corn. Hooooo-ray. What a surprise.

  29. M Lewis

    I don’t know if you’ve written it somewhere else on the blog, but what kind of lunches do you normally send with your daughter to school? I would love to find some better stuff for my kids to take every day.

    Lunch meat rollups (they like cream cheese inside), apples or grapes, carrots, stews in a thermos cup, olives, nuts, slices of hot dogs or Polish sausages, a sandwich if they ask for it (they usually don’t), chicken if we have leftovers, cheese slices.

  30. Leta

    I am new to this site. I love it. Keep up the good work.

    I have a public health degree. What this means is that I have more nutrition hours than an M.D. If it makes you feel any better, three different nutrition profs from two different schools have been saying much of the same stuff that’s here on Fat Head. All were huge into traditional diets, the defense of lard, very skeptical of calorie-in-calorie-out thinking, etc. So there’s hope!

    Oh, and guys? Wanting healthy diets for all knows no political persuasion. I’m a pretty far left liberal with lots of libertarian leanings. I voted for Obama. (And I almost certainly will again.) I agree, our laws, both state and federal, are ridiculous in regard to food. The subsidy situation is a travesty. But I still want universal health care and government regulation of corporations.

    Good to know there are a few nutrition professors out there who don’t preach from the low-fat hymnal.

    I hear from skeptics now and then who huff and puff and ask why they should listen to a mere blogger instead of their doctors. I try to explain that their doctors have virtually no training in nutrition, but they don’t seem to believe it … even though other doctors are the ones who told me how little nutrition is covered in medical school.

  31. TonyNZ

    ““The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)”

    Hmmm…something about this sounds weird. How can the majority of the population be a special group? And secondly what is in men’s diets that is so bad for women and children to eat? And since when are infants not children?”

    American nutrition is the Titanic? Going down with not enough lifeboats?

    Interesting point you quoted from the Bologna Bible about encouraging access to grocery stores. I think it has been touched on here before, but the government seems to think convenience stores = bad, grocery stores = good. As a kid I would always go to the grocery store because I could get a king-size chocolate bar for the price of a convenience store snack size bar. This doesn’t take a genius.

    By the way, does anyone ever think where the fat from reduced fat milk goes? Fed back to livestock. I’m yet to hear of all the coronary attacks these animals are having due to the artery clogging effect…

    They want to fatten them up so they tell us not to eat them.

  32. TonyNZ

    And on the dog food, I make all my own. We have an abundance of real meat from home killed cattle. What this means is the dog gets all the offcuts and my scotch fillet (or ribeye if that’s your dialect) ratio goes up. Something about “chicken byproduct meal” makes me cringe.

    I like your term for it, especially if that means it’s served with scotch.

  33. Katie

    “The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)”

    It’s the program that is being labelled special, not the Women, Infants, and Children that it provides for.

    This program is pretty good, in that the reason specific brands of cereals are specified is that they have to be low in sugar. That doesn’t help that it’s cereal in the first place.

    You can buy full fat milk (and I did), cheese, eggs, and peanut butter. I just didn’t bother redeeming the cereal that I was allotted. The specifications for certain milks, eggs, and cheeses is that the food is supposed to be for the children and pregnant and nursing mothers, so they won’t pay for organic or gourmet items.

  34. Cathryn

    My husband and I care for feral cats. One of our ferals had a history of kidney infections. Sometimes they turned into kidney-bladder infections. Our vet was in favor of euthanasia for this cat. I said let me do some research first. I discovered that diets high in CORN, SOY, and WHEAT, not to mention all the frickin’ preservatives are responsible for killing the kidneys in cats. We brought the cat inside–removed him from the dry-food diet, put him on canned meat products. He hasn’t had a kidney or bladder infection since and that was 6 years ago.

    Recently, I’ve been feeding him more meat and less canned foods. He’s doing even better and he’s almost 14 years old. Since he’s doing better and has bad kidneys–I’ve been following his diet of more protein, vegetables, and fruits, and wayyyyyyyyyyyyy less grain foods, no preservatives. My kidneys are responding to the change in the diet and are doing better. My friends who have Type 2 diabetes or are on dialysis are getting sicker following the “prescribed diets” for those diseases…less protein, more grains, and a modest amount of fruits and vegetables.


    Doesn’t it break your heart to think of all the needless suffering caused by bad dietary advice?

  35. Kate

    I can’t believe you actually changed what your child brought to school for lunch to appease government inspectors. Doesn’t that make you part of the problem?

    No, that makes me a good father, who cares enough his four-year-old daughter not to traumatize her by making her the center of a fight she didn’t start.


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